Democrats running in the Maine Senate race sharply criticized national Democrats for immediately giving their support to Sara Gideon less than 24 hours after she entered the race.
Gideon, a Democratic speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, announced her decision to challenge incumbent Republican senator Susan Collins on Monday afternoon. By Tuesday morning the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced it was "proud to fight alongside" Gideon and began formally fundraising for her campaign. At 12:40 p.m., Gideon personally authored a fundraising plea to the DSCC's email list.
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The reaction from the two already-declared Democratic candidates was immediate. Betsy Sweet, who came in third in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary and has already won endorsements, took aim at the "political elite" trying to control the Maine election.
"Here we go again," Sweet tweeted shortly after the DSCC's endorsement. "The DC political elite is trying to tell Mainers who our candidate should be."
Bre Kidman, a political activist who chose to run after failing to sway Collins on confirming Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, told the Washington Free Beacon was "genuinely disgusted" by the endorsement of Gideon so early on in the race.
"I am genuinely disgusted by national Democrats' decision to ordain The Candidate a day after Sara Gideon's announcement, less than a week after Gideon’s prohibition on fundraising lifted, and a year before the primary," Kidman said.
"Even if I wasn't going to be their candidate, Betsy Sweet has decades more experience than Sara Gideon and, unlike Gideon, has run a statewide race before," Kidman added, praising her other opponent in the race against Gideon.
Kidman shared a recent email from DSCC political director Gabrielle Quintana Greenfield, who on June 11 congratulated Kidman on her candidacy and pledged to be in touch.
"We are early on in our process so we'll be sure to keep in touch," Greenfield wrote. "Please feel free to keep me posted as things develop in your race and we'll check back in soon."
Kidman has not heard from Greenfield or anyone else at the DSCC since. Greenfield did not respond to an email from the Free Beacon.
Sweet told the Free Beacon news of Gideon's endorsement was "disappointing, though not surprising."
"It's disappointing, though not surprising, that Chuck Schumer and D.C. lobbyists and operatives feel the need to tell Mainers who to support in the primary," Sweet said.
"We're an independent bunch; we don't want to be told who to vote for by out-of-state interests," Sweet added. "Maine people will decide this race, and that's who I'm talking with. I look forward to a robust primary alongside my fellow candidates with debates and conversations all over the state."
"Gideon's leadership PAC statements show who has bought and paid for the establishment's support," Kidman said.
Bre Kidman, a self-described "Queer Feminist Mermaid," offered sharper criticism of Gideon on Twitter, saying she wouldn't even be a change from Collins.
"If you want a candidate who will play nice & keep things orderly, I’m not the one," Kidman said. "If you see national Democratic strategists effectively bypassing a primary with two candidates who want to fight money in politics (looking at you, [Adam Parkhomenko]), IT I$ NOT A COINCIDENCE. These people have financial stakes in keeping the money that silences us in the picture."
Politico reported on Monday the DSCC has decided to rally around hand-picked candidates not only in Maine, but also in North Carolina and Iowa, which are all expected to have crowded primaries.
Democrats will need to flip three Republican-held Senate seats, hold Senator Doug Jones's seat in Alabama, and win the White House if they want to control the chamber after the 2020 elections.